CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER
By Gary Murray
Starring Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg and Will McCormack
Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Running time 91 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Matinee
Rashida Jones is a young actress who has been making some inroads in Hollywood. She has a co-starring role in Parks and Recreation on NBC, played small roles in I Love You, Man and the latest Muppet movie. In her newest film Celeste and Jesse Forever, she takes on both the lead role and the writing duties.
The story of Celeste and Jesse Forever is what happens when it is not ‘happily ever after’. Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are life-long friends who got married are now divorced but have yet to move on with their lives. Celeste in a trend forecaster, a person who is to know that is hot before anyone else. Jesse is an artist who is more interested in surfing than making a living. Jesse lives in the back of Celeste’s house.
All of the friends of Celeste and Jesse think that something is seriously wrong with two divorced people who spend every day with each other. It is just that these two are best friends and have a long and involved history. They have all of these inside jokes that they think are funny and everyone else finds irritating.
The crisis of the film happens when Jesse finds that a complication is happening from a one night stand. As he confronts this new phase of his existence, Celeste finds that she has to deal with the very real possibilities of life without her lifelong best friend. This is compounded by her latest client, a pop diva (Emma Roberts) that Celeste has no respect for at all. Celeste has to build a campaign around everything she thinks is wrong with pop culture. She also has to confront the idea of dating again and finding out what a land mind infused area that can be.
Rashida Jones gives a winning performance as Celeste. She gets to show some real emotions in a role that is part comic and part tragic. Since she wrote the part for herself, she does know the ins and outs of the character. Her character is not the regular foil for the rom-com–the damsel in distress or the fodder for the male—but a well thought out character with some serious issues in her life. It is a refreshing and different pace in the stiff genre.
Andy Samberg is trying to make the cross over from comedic performer to leading man and this is a timid first step. Though he gives it a valiant try it is still a weaker reading. While I commend him for taking a chance in the leading man role, he just doesn’t sell the part. He is the kind of actor who is best in smaller roles, like a Jack Black or a Jon Lovitz, and not the leading man type. It is a miscast that hurts the final product.
The problem with the film is that it drags. Even at 90 minutes, there was this overwhelming desire to check the watch. That is never a good sign. The film is directed by Lee Toland Krieger who does a workman job but not much more. There is little sense of style in his framing and execution. The final product feels more like a made for television motion picture than a feature film.
Celeste and Jesse Forever is one of these films that will never set the box office on fire but will make a nice calling card for all those involved. It will show a different side to the principle actors and generate positive spin for future projects. It is more of a showcase for getting the next job than a satisfying cinema experience.